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President Trump signed a presidential order Wednesday temporarily banning green cards for certain groups of people outside the United States, a sweeping move that implements restrictions on legal immigration by presidential proclamation.
The proclamation suspends access to green cards for family members of permanent residents who are outside of the United States, parents and siblings of US citizens abroad, and thousands of people who come to the country as part of a lottery system for 60 days.
The policy will not apply to those coming to the country temporarily, such as agricultural workers or students, or to children or spouses of citizens who are outside of the US and applying for green cards. Nor does it apply to those who had the visas before Wednesday.
The administration also carved out exceptions for certain specialized workers, like nurses or doctors, along with foreign investors who spend money in the US and apply for green cards.
“I have determined that, without intervention, the United States faces a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistently high unemployment if labor supply outpaces labor demand,” Trump wrote in the proclamation. “Excess labor supply affects all workers and potential workers, but it is particularly harmful to workers at the margin between employment and unemployment, who are typically ‘last in’ during an economic expansion and ‘first out’ during an economic contraction.”
Trump’s order appeared to target areas of legal immigration that he had long criticized, including those who obtain green cards through familial relationships of US citizens and permanent residents, as well as people who get status through a visa lottery. All told, researchers at the Migration Policy Institute said that the groups the order applied to received more than 300,000 green cards last year.
“The president’s administration has enacted significant changes during this crisis in furtherance of their immigration agenda,” said Sarah Pierce, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. “Today, the president made progress on the one thing he previously needed Congress’s help to accomplish: reducing legal immigration.”
Immigrant advocates opposed Trump’s latest move to restrict immigration.
“Economically speaking, the thinking behind this order plays into the patently flawed idea that American prosperity is a zero-sum game; to the contrary, we see consistently that immigrants are essential, entrepreneurial, tax-paying, and job-creating members of society, critical to the growth and vitality of our economy,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.